11 Steps to Signing a Commercial Lease and Opening Your Store

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signing commercial lease

Planning to sign a commercial lease and open your business? Here is a simple step-by-step checklist to follow.

1. Understand the Basics of Commercial Lease

Before you get started, it is best to understand the basics of a commercial lease. Usually, commercial leases charge base rent plus utilities which is similar to a residential lease, but unlike a residential lease, you may have additional expenses such as common area maintenance. Commercial leases are also typically longer in length (i.e. 3 to 10 years plus) or longer.

2. Build Your Business Plan

Do you understand the local market and competition? What is your point of differentiation? How much will you charge? What are your costs? Build your business plan so you know whether you can make a profit and how much. Be realistic.

3. Define The Space

Estimate the amount of space you need (i.e. square footage) so you can find a commercial space that matches your needs once you open your store. The store should be big enough to accommodate your needs without being too big or too small. It’s easy to say you need more, but be reasonable, especially if you’re a start up.

4. Reach Out to Multiple Landlords

Reach out to multiple landlords to find what you need. Some people may recommend hiring a lease broker, but if you are looking for a smaller space, this might not be needed depending on the market you are in. You may even get a better deal if you go directly to shopping centers.

5. Find Out the Term of the Lease

Keep in mind that most commercial leases have longer terms than residential leases as some sort of guarantee. Usually, the term lasts between 3 and 10 years. You may also have to pay to build out the store. Find out the lease term so you are well prepared.

6. Read the Lease Carefully

Apart from the lease term, make sure you scour through the lease carefully. Ask as many questions as required and consult a lawyer if you think necessary. Once you are happy with it, sign the lease and start preparations for opening your business to the public.

7. Hire an Architect and/or Contractor

If you need to get the space built out for your business needs, it’s probably best to hire a local architect to draw up design plans. You may even need to get city or local municipal permits, which your architect or contractor should be able to help with. Get a price quote before building out.

8. Schedule an Inspection

Once the place has been completed, you may need to schedule an inspection. Then you can start adding decorations and alternations and put in furniture as needed.

9. Plan a Digital and Print Marketing Campaign

By now, as part of your business plan you should have your marketing strategy. If you don’t, now would be the time to start planning your digital and print marketing campaigns to get your business off the ground and in front of your target audience.

10. Order Printed Materials Quickly

Once you set up your print and digital marketing plans, order the printed materials like signage, brochures, flyers and more as soon as possible as it may take some time to arrive. Find out how long this will take so you can plan your store opening accordingly.

11. Go Live With Your Digital Marketing Plan

Start going live with your digital marketing plan just a little ahead of your store launch to create anticipation for the big day. If needed, start off with a special offer to attract new customers to your business. Use as many social media and digital channels as relevant to your business.

Use this guide to help you properly plan before you sign a lease and open your retail business.



Finding Commercial Space


Leasing Commercial Space

Moving Into Commercial Space

Starting A New Commercial Store


Philadelphia Commercial Lease


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